Isokon Lawn Road Flats

balcony angles, Isokon Lawn Road Flats

I stumbled upon the 1930s modernist Isokon Building (Lawn Road Flats) last week near Belsize Park Station, snapped some photos, and then returned on Saturday afternoon for a quick tour of the mini-museum in the former garages. Agatha Christie (whose murder mysteries I devoured as a child) lived here for several years with her archeologist second-husband, Sir Max Mallowan. So did a few Russian spies. Original residents could access a communal kitchen and later a restaurant. During the Cold War, the building gradually fell into disrepair but was more recently restored with interior modifications for larger contemporary kitchen appliances and the like.

The museum showcases Isokon's original Marcel Breuer mid-century plywood furniture made to house the first Penguin paperbacks—the Penguin Donkey, still in production—and lounge on while reading. And there's a tiny gift shop selling books and mugs with the Penguin logo. The museum opens on Saturdays and Sundays from 11-4.

Isokon logo, Lawn Road Flats

Isokon Building exterior, Lawn Road Flats

garage-turned-museum, Lawn Road Flats

exterior lighting, Lawn Road Flats

exterior stairs, Lawn Road Flats

interior stairwell, Lawn Road Flats

tree flower, Lawn Road Flats

Most of London housing does not look this clean-lined, apart from its skyscrapers, making the comparatively few modernist buildings in residential neighborhoods especially striking and refreshing amid all the Georgian and Victorian brick.

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